Supercomm comes to an end, TIA and USTA go separate ways

The 18th Supercomm came to an end for good in June as its two organizers, the Telecommunications Industry Association and the United States Telecom Association, decided to go separate ways and present different conferences and expos in 2006.

Aug 1st, 2005
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The 18th Supercomm came to an end for good in June as its two organizers, the Telecommunications Industry Association and the United States Telecom Association, decided to go separate ways and present different conferences and expos in 2006.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) will present Globalcomm (www.globalcomm2006.com) June 5-8, 2006, at the McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.

The United States Telecom Association (USTA; www.usta.org) will present TelecomNEXT (www.telecom-next.com) March 19-23, 2006 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Globalcomm is being billed as a conference that will bring together a broad base of global information and communications technology (ICT) suppliers, service providers, enterprises and other users of ICT. The event will feature educational sessions and technology solutions for convergence, communications infrastructure, wireless, content, enhanced security, and Internet Protocol applications such as IPTV, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video on demand (VoD). The TIA has invited keynote speakers from global industry leaders, and the conference will offer technology, regulatory and business advancements driving the converged, global telecommunications industry. Matthew Flanigan, president of the TIA, says the show will be attended by carriers, enterprise end users, and the TIA’s membership of suppliers of IT equipment.


The TIA and USTA have ended their partnership in Supercomm and will each establish dedicated trade shows.
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Meanwhile, John Abel, senior vice president of the USTA, says TelecomNEXT will focus on carriers and communication service providers. He says the USTA chose the name TelecomNEXT because it reflects the technology and trends that are coming “next.”

“We conducted a lot of research with vendors and attendees of Supercomm, NAB (National Association of Broadcasters, www.nab.org) and The Cable Show,” says Abel. “One thing they told us as to why they attend events is that they want to prepare for what is coming next in their business. They want to know about the future, and how to adjust their business plans.”

Both associations are aggressively marketing their respective shows. The TIA reported that as of June, 225 manufacturers have signed on to exhibit at Globalcomm. Walter McCormick Jr., president of US Telecom, says more than two-thirds of the exhibit floor for TelecomNEXT has been sold.

Exploring broadband

Supercomm was designed to explore broadband, enterprise networks, converged wireless, and IP applications. During its managing partnership of Supercomm during the past 18 years, the TIA was responsible for bringing in speakers and membership. But Flanigan says problems began when the USTA wanted to have more of a role in managing the show and division of show revenues.

“We couldn’t come to an agreement on those issues, so it’s easier to split,” says Flanigan.

The split between the two associations came when the TIA’s five-year contract with the USTA came to an end. Flanigan says the decision to go separate ways was a painful one, since the recent Supercomm’s international attendance was up 20% over the 2004 Supercomm, while the Midwestern regional attendance was up 46% over last year.

“The split is unfortunate, and the manufacturers would prefer one show,” says Flanigan. “The show was on the rebound, with telecom growing, and it was very successful for the last four years.”

But Flanigan says the TIA and USTA had no choice but to part ways, having come to “differences over responsibilities and financial considerations.” According to the 2001 contract, the TIA would manage Supercomm, while the USTA would deliver its membership to the conference.

Flanigan says there were no political differences between the two groups. In fact, he says, the TIA members’ customers are in “lockstep” with those of the USTA when it comes to standards and policies.

Flanigan acknowledges that with the split, Globalcomm is losing potential manufacturer and installer participation. Still, he argues that the exchange carriers that the USTA brought to Supercomm were only a small segment of the conference. Flanigan says the USTA and its members represented roughly 2,000 people, or just 10% of the buying group at Supercomm.

“We attract many wireless carriers, enterprise, cable,” says Flanigan. “Supercomm is a very horizontal show. And so we went out and managed all that.”

Now that it is starting from ground zero, Flanigan says the TIA intends Globalcomm to be a much more international communications event. “The communications market outside of the US is twice the size of the US market,” says Flanigan. “So, the fastest growing segment of communications is international.”

International buyers

Flanigan also says Globalcomm will be designed to bring more international buyers to the United States, and this is another area that may pack little interest for the USTA.

“They [USTA] represent the local exchange carriers,” Flanigan says, “and they want to satisfy their needs domestically in the US. We want to take the show more internationally.”

Flanigan says the TIA is not worried about the competitive impact that Globalcomm and TelecomNext will have on one another. But he also says the fact that each event is scheduled for different months will be helpful.

“Will they compete? Yes, on a certain level,” says Flanigan. “They will have many of my manufacturers there exhibiting, but we hope to have their members attending our show.”

Flanigan believes, however, that the USTA will actually face more serious competition from a variety of other telecom-related conferences and expositions that will take place at the beginning of the year, such as CTIA Wireless and the Consumer Electronics Show.

For its part, Abel says the USTA now regards Globalcomm as a minor competitor.“We will try to build a big event that will cut across several industries, focusing on the telecom wireline, wireless, cable communication and satellite communication,” says Abel.

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